The USFDA has authorised two vaccines against COVID- 19, both are mRNA vaccines, and data show they are highly effective. However, doctors and patients have many essential questions about these vaccines. So we reached out to experts for evidence-based answers.
Can I take the vaccine if I have immune disease, cancer or am on immunosuppressive drugs?
There is no contraindication to take the COVID vaccine. What we do not know is how good your response to the vaccine is. Unfortunately, clinical trials did not include people with the immune-compromised state, so we do not know if it’s going to be if the response will be as good as it was in other people.
Can I take the vaccine if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?
Women who were pregnant or breastfeeding were not included in the clinical trials. There were women in the clinical trials that became pregnant, and they are being followed closely. The American College of obstetrics and gynaecology and the society for maternal-fetal medicine, and the CDC have stated that there is no reason why a pregnant or breastfeeding woman should not receive the vaccine.
Can I take the vaccine if I have allergies?
Depend on what you mean by “I have an allergy”. Some people say I am allergic to peanuts. I am allergic to the dye. I am allergic to it; It depends on what you are allergic to. If you are allergic to one of the vaccine components, you definitely should not receive it. However, if you have an allergy, you know, you break out when a bee stings you, you have no problem. You are okay receiving the vaccine.
What if I have a history of a severe allergic reaction?
What is observed so far is that allergic reactions and anaphylactic reactions are exceedingly rare. What is recommended for the people is, if you had a previously a severe allergic reaction to a vaccine or if you have a situation in which you have had an anaphylactic reaction, you need, in other words, you carry an EpiPen with you who stop you need to tell this to the place where you are going to get vaccinated, and they will observe you more closely. They will be careful to have you under observation and have the EpiPen and all the other things ready to go.
Can I take the vaccine if I already had COVID- 19?
You can take the vaccine, and it is we recommend that you take the vaccine. However, what we are doing right now is we are telling people, again, because there is a limited vaccine supply, we are telling people if you had COVID-19, documented COVID-19, you don’t necessarily need to get the vaccine right away. Even telling people to wait for 90 days or so shows your immune system is not as reactive. However, we were hoping you could get the vaccine because we know from the vaccine studies that some people were enrolled when they had prior COVID-19 and they were also further protected by having the vaccine.
Is either of the vaccine better than the other, and can I switch between doses?
It is a little bit like comparing Pepsi and Coke. The reality is that they are different brands, but they are essentially very similar. They have slight differences, but the efficacy is very similar. The safety profile is very similar. What we recommend in the US, if you got your first vaccine as Pfizer, you should get your second vaccine; ask Pfizer. If you got your first vaccine as Moderna, you should get your second vaccine as Moderna.
Interestingly, The UK is not saying that. The UK says we do not care what you got, you know, you can take either vaccine. The answer is still unknown.
Can I only take one dose to minimise risk?
The UK and US discussing whether we should give one dose instead of two doses. They are talking about delaying the second dose, and the reason behind that is trying to vaccinate more people with just one dose rather than a small number of people with two doses. It will not minimise your risk. It may increase your risk of getting the disease later on. The reason for the second dose is to enhance your immune response. So it is recommended to take both doses of the vaccines.
I received the first dose & still got COVID-19. Should I take the second dose?
We have seen this over and over. We heard some people; questions come up all the time. We have seen many people who took the first dose of vaccine and still diagnosed with COVID-19. It does not mean that the vaccine is not working. It would help if you had some time for your immune system to produce antibody and start getting you a certain degree of protection. Probably about two weeks after the first dose, you start getting, 10 to 14 days, you start getting some protection. Yes, it would be best if you took the second dose.
Nevertheless, the reasonable question is, when do you take the second dose, right? And as per our recommendation, you take the second dose; if you had COVID-19 right away after you got the first dose, probably take the second dose 21 to 28 days after the first dose. You may want to delay it a little longer, if possible. But other than that, I see no reason why you should not take the second dose.
I missed my appointment for the second dose. How late can I still get it?
We would like you to get the vaccine, the second dose, as soon as possible. The UK is even talking about delaying it for 12 weeks. So, you know, it is possible to delay for 12 weeks? We do not have any data, but we suspect you probably can delay it. We mean this idea both vaccines are essential. You know, Pfizer is zero and 21 days. Moderna zero and 28 days. You can probably go because of what we know about the immune response, and you can probably extend that, you know, 4, 8, 12 weeks more, which is what the UK is doing.
Are there natural ways to improve my immunity?
There are no excellent natural ways to improve your immunity. However, there are natural ways to improve your health, improve your immunity, and decrease your risk of getting severe COVID if you get COVID. So our recommendation is to improve your health overall. Control your blood pressure, control your weight, control your sugar, and if you do all those things, your overall life expectancy is doing to be better. So that’s how you improve your immune system by eating healthy, exercising, and leaving a healthy lifestyle.
Will Virus mutations make the vaccine less effective?
There could be viral mutations that make the vaccine less effective. Up to now, the viral mutations we have seen do not appear to make the vaccine less effective, again, because the vaccine produces broadly neutralising antibodies. So there is more than one epitope that the vaccine is directed against. However, there could potentially be a mutation that will make the vaccine not be effective. An RNA virus is what they do for a living. They mutate continuously. They are changing all the time. The more rapidly we can stop transmission and vaccinate people, the less likely the virus will be mutating.
How long does protection last?
People in the clinical trials in phase 3 trial will be followed for two years, trying to understand how long does protection last?
We know so far from people who were enrolled in the phase one studies that they are still immune to now. So we know that at least six months later, you still have immunity to this virus.